Tannoy Reveal 402

Device Type: Active 2-way loudspeaker
Input: RCA, XLR, 3.5mm analog
Dimensions (H x W x D): 9.5 x 5.8 x 8.4"
Availability: online and through Authorized Dealers
Price: $280.00/ea.
Website: www.tannoystudio.com

Poke Me
The Tannoy Reval 402's sport a ¾" soft-dome "Poke-Resistant" tweeter and a 4" custom high-efficiency LF woofer for a claimed frequency response of 56 Hz -48 kHz. I cannot tell you how badly I wanted to poke that "Poke-Resistant" tweeter it being the most poke provoking tweeter I've ever seen since it claims otherwise. But I didn't. I resisted the temptation largely because the Tannoy's enticed with other traits, namely what they're made for.

The Reveal lineup includes the 402s, 502s, and 802s with corresponding 4-inch, 5-inch and 8-inch woofer/midrange drivers respectively. For the 402s, each driver gets its own 25W amp and there's an adjustable EQ setting (-1.5 dB HF Cut / Neutral / +1.5 dB HF Boost) around back along with the RCA and XLR inputs. There's also a volume control which I left maxed and a mini jack for connecting your phone or portable player. When using this minijack, you'll want to set the "Speaker Position" switch, telling each speaker which side of your desk its on since you have to connect the two 402's together with the included stereolink cable when using the minijack input. An IEC inlet for the included power cords, and on/off switch and associated blue power LED fills out the backside.

The Tannoy's black cabinets are constructed from "an acoustically optimised injection moulded baffle utilising dense material for maximum acoustic performance. The baffle is mechanically secured to a vinyl laminated MDF cabinet construction which has a closed cell acoustic foam base." Around front are the aforementioned drivers and a slotted port below them allowing for near back wall placement. The active cross-overs were custom tweaked by Tannoy’s in-house speaker guru, Dr. Paul Mills, according to Tannoy. I sat the Tannoy's atop the IsoAcoustic stands (see review) and leashed them to the Mytek Stereo192-DSD DAC that serves as my desktop DAC of choice via XRL. Let's play.

They Sound Like More
Big they aren't but the little Tannoy's throw out a convincingly big sound. The presentation is at once crisp, well controlled, splashy, and on the wet sounding side. Not dry. The 402's also throw out a nice big rock solid sound image and vocals in particular stand out as physical things hovering over your desktop. Tom Waits' gravely growl on Blue Valentine was spittingly close and breathlessly present. Just how I like him.

Having just come off the Focal Alpha 50 review, their extra size allowed for a more physically imposing sound but I'd give the Tannoy's the upper hand in all around coherence. They jive. They boogie, they rock and roll. Of course there's only so much air a 4" driver can move, Tannoy claims a max SPL of 101 dB, plenty for a few feet from your ears. As a matter of fact I found myself listening to the little 402's louder than I normally listen. They seemed to gell with me better when being pushed a bit.

Compared to my ADAM A3Xs, the ADAMs win the refinement race and also the in-your-head sound imparted by their ribbon tweeter. But, the Tannoy's are damn fun to listen to and really do sound of a piece, their drivers working in perfect unison for a believable sound image. Considering their street price, I'd say they are damn fine speakers and fall short in insignificant areas all things considered. They may be a tad flatter, front-to-back, than other speakers, but their horizontal dispersion makes up for that shortcoming. The 402's also operate near silently which is a must have feature for a desktop speaker in my book. Only a very slight hiss is audible from the tweeters from a few inches away at full volume.

The 402's also acquitted themselves very nicely to higher resolution recordings up to and including DSD. They are able to capture and portray finely nuanced and finely recorded acoustic music expertly endowing instruments with a healthy helping of their individual voices. Something like the big (and more expensive) Focal Solo6 Be's offered up a broader range, the fuller rainbow, but again considering the Tannoy's price what they do deliver is impressive to say the least.

During the review period I awoke to find one of the Tannoy's had gone to sleep and refused to wake up. The right speaker simply stopped working and would not power on. I informed my contact at Tannoy and they sent a new pair which worked just fine.

Boogie Machines
If you're looking for active desktop speakers in the Tannoy's price range, I would highly recommend adding the Reveal 402s to your shortest of lists. At their price they strike me as a veritable steal.

Associated Equipment

Also on hand and in use during the Reveal 402 review: ADAM A3X

JIMIXY's picture

Do you really consider these active monitors a class above Focal alpha 50s?? I had the 402s and couldn't stand the self noise issue after a while.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
The self noise didn't bother me as it was not audible from where I sit.
rexp's picture

So if one was to invest say 1500 bucks in a dac,amp and speakers, would the 799 Sony UDA1 plus passive speakers be better than the Tannoys plus a $1200 dac/pre?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
Simpler, less clutter. As to which approach you'd like better, that depends completely on your tastes especially when it comes to speakers.
BradleyP's picture

It's fun to watch this market heat up, just as the USB dac market did a year ago. The consumer is the winner, here. Is it the interest in desktop consumer audio that's driving this market, or the advances in inexpensive class D amplification, or something else?

It seems to me that the JBL 305 is the one to beat for under $300. Does the Tannoy win, obvious LF extension considerations aside?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...getting a review sample of the JBLs so I have not heard them.
JIMIXY's picture

Upon further investigation according to Tannoy the 'self noise' issue (independent of amplifier volume level) was a quality issue with early models of the range which they have addressed.
Problem is before purchasing, it will be difficult to ascertain whether we are getting modified new stock or old stock with the noise issue.

rjbert's picture

How does the Tannoy compare to the Audioengine 2? Also, does the Tannoy have auto-sleep functionality when it isn't being used?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
And bigger sounding (they also go 10Hz lower and have more powerful amps). They do not have an auto-sleep function.
KmanChu's picture

I have an iFi micro iDSD and would like a set of powered speakers and am considering these Tannoys. Did you try them through the single ended input or just through XLRs? Could you comment on any differences?

Papathrust's picture

Would you offer some comparison between the 402's, Audio Engine A5 and the BX5.
I'd be doing some mixing and more listening.

Dani3l's picture

Were these really @280 a piece at one time? I can find these brand new on various sites starting at $120 a speaker.